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University of Arizona alum Bob Baffert made his former school and the world proud today with his horse, American Pharoah, winning horse racing’s Triple Crown for the first time in 37 years.
Baffert, who graduated from the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program with a Bachelor of Science degree, saw the horse he trains lead from start to finish in the Belmont Stakes. American Pharaoh is the 12th horse to win the Triple Crown.
American Pharoah, with jockey Victor Espinoza, set fractions of 24.06 seconds for the first quarter-mile and 48.83 at the half-mile mark.
Making the turn for home, Frosted was a threat, but American Pharoah increased its push when urged by Espinoza and widened his lead in the stretch to win by 5 1/2 lengths. Frosted held on for second, two lengths in front of Keen Ice who finished third.
Baffert previously brought three horses to Belmont with a chance to win the Triple Crown: Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in 1998 and War Emblem in 2002. Espinoza was in this position with War Emblem and last year with California Chrome.
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“I just feel like I have a very special horse, and he’s the one that won,” Baffert was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal. “I was just enjoying the crowd and the noise.”
Affirmed in 1978 was the last horse to sweep the Triple Crown. In the past 37 years, a dozen horses have won the Derby and Preakness, only to falter in the Belmont, not including I’ll Have Another, who scratched the morning before the 2012 Belmont due to an injury.
Baffert said American Pharoah will head to Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on Sunday. “Let him freshen up,” Baffert told the Wall Street Journal. “Get some bluegrass.” It is unknown when the horse will race next.
In case you didn’t know, the American Pharoah is misspelled. The horse was named from an fan’s online submission, but “pharaoh” was misspelled during the registration process.
Minor details for a Triple Crown winner with worldwide appeal trained by a University of Arizona alum.
Enjoy some of the Twitter reactions in the following slideshow …